Not Even Nicolas Batum Can Rescue Slumping Portland Trail Blazers

By John Raffel
Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Nicolas Batum knows that he has to step up big time if the Portland Trail Blazers are going to make the NBA playoffs this season. But maybe even that won’t be enough.

Batum had a respectable night on Friday when his team lost 111-107 to the Los Angeles Lakers.

It was the seventh straight loss for the Trail Blazers, who have to snap that string right now or forget about having a postseason. It may already be too late.

Kobe Bryant scored his 40 points for the Lakers. Batum quietly did his thing for the Trail Blazers with 22 points on 9-of-14 shot from the floor and 2-of-5 in 3-point shooting. He had eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Not a bad night, but the Trail Blazers couldn’t get a strong team effort to pull it out.

If the Trail Blazers are to make a serious playoff push, Batum has to help take charge. He’s at 15.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. He appears ready to do just that. This continues to be one of his better scoring seasons. He’s averaging 4.3 points more per game than his career mark. His assists are three more per game this season than from his career average. His rebounding is also better.

His 42.7 percent field goal shooting is down slightly from his career mark of 45.2.

Most impressive for Batum has been his reliability. He’s averaging 38.7 minutes per game this season compared to 28.4 in his career.

Individual stats don’t matter for Portland which can’t seem to buy a win right now. That factor is costing the Trail Blazers the entire season.

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